Daily Habits as the Key to Success?
I started reading Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before in February, a few weeks before Mars stationed retrograde. It’s a fascinating exploration into how different people form habits, and how knowing thyself a little better can help you actually succeed at making a good habit (or breaking a bad one).
I’ve been taking classes from producer and electronic musician Jason Timothy – I really dig his sacred warrior approach to music-making. In the intro materials to one of his classes I read the following statement:
“Your daily habits rule your results in everything you do. What you commit to on a daily basis can quickly bring you to the top 5 % of your field.”
That’s a bold statement. Really? Top 5 percent?
The more I thought about this statement, the more I was forced to admit that my daily habits were not going to get me into the top 50 percent, let alone anywhere near the top five.
“I hate habits!” I thought. And, my ego reminded me, you have good reason for hating habits. All that shit you had to do when you were a good Christian boy. You’ve paid your habit dues.
But I couldn’t shake the feeling Jason was tuning me in to something really important. So I started searching for a useful book on how to form good habits. I knew I needed a perspective that went beyond the boilerplate: “Do something every day for 21 days and it becomes a habit and now you’ll be successful and feel good about yourself.”
Better Than Before
A review on Amazon led me to Gretchen Rubin’s book and I was intrigued – here was a body of research on habits that grew out of the premise that there must be fundamental differences in the way people think that account for the fact that some people can form new habits easily while others like me can struggle to do even the simplest thing every day.
I thought when it came to habits, I was just somehow defective. But Rubin (a Sagittarius) is an inspiring writer so I kept reading, determined to allow her to help me figure out how to start – and stick to – the habits of success I knew I needed in my life.
And then Mars went retrograde. And for three months I could barely even think about new habits, let alone find the energy to keep them going. (After all these years, it still amazes me how potent some of these planetary shifts are.)
I put the book on my bookshelf and looked at it half-longingly every so often….and that was as close as I got.
Then, all of a sudden, three days after Mars returned to direct motion , I picked Rubin’s book up off the shelf and started reading it. Hungrily!
Now I’m using the Mars Direct energy to start the new habits I wanted to start in February. Interestingly enough, this return to thinking about habits (and now acting on those thoughts) syncs up with the concept of “the power of just getting started” flying back into my life.
‘Either Once Only, or Every Day’
One thing Rubin discovered in her research is the idea that something you do every day, even for five minutes, acquires a quality of “specialness” in the mind. As does something you only do once in a blue moon.
“The things we do every day take on a certain beauty, and funnily enough, two very unconventional geniuses wrote about the power of daily repetition. Andy Warhol said, “Either once only, or every day. If you do something once it’s exciting, and if you do it every day it’s exciting. But if you do it, say, twice or just almost every day, it’s not good anymore.” Gertrude Stein made a related point: “Anything one does every day is important and imposing.”
What do you want to be doing every day? Would you be willing to commit to making a habit of it, if you knew you only had to show up for five minutes?
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